Thursday, 22 June 2017

LISTEN: Nick Mulvey - 'Myela'

If you read my Bushstock Festival write-up you'll know that the wonderful Nick Mulvey is back and totally smashed his headline set, playing to an adoring crowd of fans. Following a couple of warm up shows in Oxford, Bristol and London last week, Nick has just released another new track from his upcoming record. Myela, featuring the beautiful sing-along refrain "you are my neighbour" went down a treat at Bushstock, and the idea for the track came from Nick's awareness of the refugee crisis. Talking about the track, for which he is working in partnership with Help Refugees, Nick wrote that: 

"Like most people my heart breaks seeing the unprecedented refugee crisis unfolding across Europe. On top of this I felt disturbed and confused by the uncaring attitudes of many of the authorities and media. I wanted to write about the humanity of those suffering- how they are all people and families, with lives more or less like yours and mine. And so the idea for 'Myela' came and I began to work on it in partnership with my musician friend Federico Bruno. To be honest, we felt unworthy to write poetry about this subject. So instead we explored first-hand accounts of refugees journeys, and drew the song from there. We want to give them voice and to share that voice with the people who listen to my music, to make them aware the situation continues."

Myela and the previously released track Unconditional are taken from Nick's upcoming studio album Wake Up Now, the follow up to the critically acclaimed 2014 record First Mind. Pre-order your copy here!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

WATCH: Everything Everything - 'Can't Do'

It seems to be a great time for some of my favourite artists coming back with new music and last week was no exception as total legends Everything Everything returned with the absolute tune Can't Do. Their last record Get To Heaven, released in 2015, was my favourite record of the year so I'm really looking forward to hearing it's follow up - A Fever Dream is out on 18th August. They're in the midst of a mini warm-up tour before a couple of festivals, but hopefully a full tour to promote the album will be announced shortly! Check out the (pretty strange) video for Can't Do below...

Like what you're hearing?! Pre-order A Fever Dream here.

Monday, 19 June 2017

LISTEN: My Crooked Teeth - 'Better Off'

Got four minutes to spare?! Take a moment to check out Better Off, the new track from Oxford's My Crooked Teeth, aka the all round lovely chap Jack Olchawski who I've had the pleasure of meeting at some recent Tigmus shows. A wistful take on the final days of a relationship, the track crescendos from Jack's beautiful vocals to a much fuller sound, departing from his debut EP as this is the first track to see Jack backed by a band with drums, double bass, slide guitar and banjo in the mix. I have to agree with The 405 when they say that "My Crooked Teeth is a straight up heartbreaker."

Check out Better Off on Spotify (and add it to your playlists) here or buy it on iTunes hereMy Crooked Teeth play this year's Cornbury Festival in July, alongside two of my favourite singer-songwriters, Jack Savoretti and Sam Beeton and a whole host of other brilliant artists - tickets.

GIG NEWS: Banfi at The Cellar, Oxford (8th Sep)

As I've finished uni I've left Oxford but as I've been blogging about gigs I've seen in the city for the last couple of years most people reading this are probably from the area - if so, you're in luck because one of my favourite bands have just announced an Oxford gig. Banfi have added a date to their first headline tour in September, they'll be playing at The Cellar on the 8th. They smashed their support slot at Oxford's O2 with Bear's Den back in March and I caught them at last weekend's Bushstock Festival where they played the best set I've seen them do yet. With an album in the works and some superb singles under their belts I seriously recommend getting along to this tour while they're playing in intimate venues - they've also just announced Bryde as support for the tour so it gets better and better! 

You can grab tickets for the Oxford show here or check out the full list of tour dates (including London's Lexington) here!

Friday, 16 June 2017

WATCH: Public Service Broadcasting release video for 'They Gave Me A Lamp'

Hearing lines such as "politics is life and everything to do with it affects you directly or indirectly" and "'You can't come with us because you're a girl', and it made me damn determined to do it", I can't help but think that the sampled lyrics of the latest offering from the brilliant Public Service Broadcasting couldn't be more poignant and relevant to the current day, despite being taken from the 1980s.

They Gave Me A Lamp reflects upon the history of coal mining communities in the UK, addressing the political awakening among women's support groups at the time of the South Wales mining strike. Featuring post-rock trio Haiku Salut the track itself undergoes an awakening of sorts, raising in volume and pace as it progresses, and the newly released video for the track was shot underground in a former mine, incorporating footage of the Welsh Valleys mining community. Alongside the first single Progress, the track is taken from the band's upcoming album Every Valley (due 7th July) a major the theme of which is disenfranchisement, a story of dignity and social responsibility set against the backdrop of industrial decline.

If you like what you're hearing be sure to pre-order the new record Every Valley and check out the upcoming tour dates on the PSB site here - they're heading to the US in September, UK in October and Europe in November, as well as some album launch shows here in the UK at the start of July.   

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

LIVE: Bushstock Festival 2017

At the weekend I caught my third Bushstock Festival, a day of superb music curated by the lovely folks at Communion Music in venues around Shepherd's Bush. Highlights of 2015 included seeing this year's headliners Nick Mulvey and The Staves play secret acoustic sets in a tiny wine bar, and last year's festival gave me the chance to see Bear's Den for the first time alongside the likes of Matthew & The Atlas, MarthaGunn, Dan Croll and Charlie Cunningham. A glance back at the past line-ups shows the likes of George Ezra, Bastille, Michael Kiwanuka and Hozier playing before they were well known, so as you'd imagine the atmosphere is great and the festival has a loyal following, there to try and discover the next big thing (and like I've said many times, a line-up curated by Communion is bound to be wonderful!) As with any festival there are clashes galore and the strength of the line-up doesn't help in this respect, however despite missing the likes of The Staves, Rhys Lewis, Isaac Gracie, The Big Moon, Spring King and loads more I had a great day, here's a little round-up of who I managed to catch!

Kicking off my day was Rukhsana Merrise, who I caught on a Communion New Faces tour a year or so ago and really enjoyed. Yesterday was her first live show for a while and a chance to debut tracks from her forthcoming record, and despite playing pretty early in the day she drew quite a crowd at the Courtyard stage. The venue was a trek from the others (I thought) but worth it once you got there with food, drink and a little pop-up record store surrounding the stage which was underneath a sea of rainbow umbrellas - luckily none of them needed as the sun came out and made the day even better! Check out the absolute tune Money below...

Rukhsana Merrise at the Courtyard stage

Next up I was headed towards Defector's Weld, where two friends I'd met up with were keen to see John Joseph Brill. He seems a lovely chap and I enjoyed his EP so was up for checking his set out when my phone buzzed with a twitter notification - Seramic were the second secret set of the day. Sad to miss JJB but I'm sure another chance to see him play will come up soon, so I headed to the wine bar, met up with another friend and waited... they ran behind schedule while they waited for a keyboard stand but it was completely worth the wait. I've seen Seramic play as a full band a few times over the past months and in this stripped back set-up for a couple of tracks at the Bear's Den Christmas show in December, so knew that I was in for a treat but even my high expectations were blown out of the water. I couldn't stop smiling, the tunes made me so happy and as I watched Marcus and Layla grin to one another it struck me how important it is to see that the band are enjoying playing for you to really take something from a set. Taking us through some tracks from their two EPs, they finished off the set with Trying, my favourite track from the recent I Got You EP, wowing the crowd with some seriously crazy notes. With two really strong EPs under their belts and some seriously impressive live performances I can't wait to see what Seramic do next!

Seramic secret set at the Albertine Wine Bar

We headed back to the Courtyard stage after they had finished to catch some of Ten Tonnes' set - I've heard good things about him but hadn't listened to his music before, all I really had to go on was that he's George Ezra's brother, which seems like a pretty good sign of musical quality. I was impressed by his voice and the crowd seemed to be having as much fun as he was up on stage. He released his second EP, Born To Lose, on Friday, and I'm digging the title track (listen below) which went down pretty well on Saturday afternoon - stream the whole EP on Spotify here!

Ten Tonnes at the Courtyard stage

After a quick stop off for some food came a tough decision between Isaac Gracie and Tender Central... I've been wanting to catch Isaac for a while and after missing his set at The Great Escape had assumed I'd definitely watch him at Bushstock, and was particularly keen as he was performing in the beautiful surroundings of St Stephen's Church, but I was also curious about Tender Central, and it meant less walking as I was sticking around for Banfi in the same venue afterwards. TC is the project of India Bourne, who plays in Ben Howard's band, and for the show she was joined on stage by Banfi's own Aaron and Joe, and while I heard great things about Isaac's set from friends that were there, I was glad I'd stuck around and really enjoyed the set! Check out the beautiful Wake Me Up below...

Tender Central at Traid

Next up and also playing in Traid, one of my absolute favourite bands of the moment, the lovely Banfi chaps. It was my seventh time seeing them and they're getting better every time, the busy touring schedule is working wonders for their live performance, with slots at Dot to Dot festival a couple of weeks ago and Citadel coming up in July, as well as heir first headline tour (dates) in September which I can't wait for! Having seen them lots in such as short space of time even the unreleased tracks feel incredibly familiar, so it'll be great to hear more of them recorded as studio versions (check this exciting tweet about album mastering!) and I'm chuffed to hear that they're releasing She Comes Home at the end of this month! Get listening to the tracks they've put out to date, including Rosedale House which is below and fall in love with them in time for the September tour!

Banfi at Traid

After some quick chats and hugs with the band it was a rush back to the Courtyard, where it was far easier than I'd expected to get in for Nick Mulvey's albeit quite early headline set. He's been away working on new music and with his beautiful baby boy for a while now and it was so great to have him back playing his first live performance for some time, with a stripped back version of his new live band. I was a little unsure as the crowd chattered away over the first chords of the first track, the recently released single Unconditional, but they soon fell under Nick's spell and spent fifty minutes totally entranced by his beautiful music, as did I! Sneaking only Fever To The Form and Meet Me There into the set from his first record we were treated to an array of entirely new tracks and it really felt like we were all part of something special, singing along to tracks as we heard them for the first time, and it feels amazing to have Nick back - and the joy at the crowd's response was so clear across his face too!

Nick Mulvey at the Courtyard stage

The second Nick had finished the crowd all rushed out of the venue, with most headed towards the church to try and get in for The Staves. I knew there would be no chance of getting in for their set so headed back towards Traid where I'd left my friend, whose favourite band Seafret were headlining, so of course I had to see what all the fuss was about. The venue is a charity clothes shop, raising money through donated clothes to target child and sweatshop labour in fashion, a really interesting and worthwhile concept, and as I stood at the back of the crowd a friend from Oxford tapped me from behind the clothes rails, isn't it lovely to bump into friends unexpectedly?! Stood quite far back it seemed as if the stage was a little dark but the sound was great in the venue and I definitely hope that they use it as a venue for the festival again next year. The singer Jack has great hair and a great voice and they were a really fun way to finish off my festival - I already can't wait for the next year of Bushstock!

Seafret at Traid

If you like the sound of Bushstock, be sure to sign up to the Communion mailing list for a weekly mailout about their upcoming releases and tracks. After ten years in the business they are continually killing it, working with some of my favourite artists on some really special concerts in London and further afield. Long live Communion!! 

LISTEN: Ferris & Sylvester - 'Berlin'

I'm a little late to the party and this track has been out for a couple of weeks now, but checking back through the PR emails I've missed over the last few weeks I knew I had to share this. It's from Ferris & Sylvester, the project of Londoners Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester who met as solo musicians in the busy London music scene and started to make music together. The track Berlin is taken from their upcoming EP The Yellow Line, due next Friday (23rd), and combines some beautifully soft vocals, strings (always beautiful) and finger-picked guitar. About the single the pair say "Berlin' tells the story of a love coming to an end. The song doesn’t romanticise the situation or shy away from the stark reality of it; it shows the confusing, awkward and lonely journey of leaving someone and where that can leave you."

Be sure to keep an eye out next Friday for the full EP, also featuring their first single Save Yourself.

Friday, 9 June 2017

WATCH: Parekh & Singh - 'Ghost'

It's difficult to not instantly fall for Parekh & Singh when you see one of their music videos or press shots, they're usually dressed to impressed and their tunes are pretty great too. They're from Kolkata in India, and have recently been on a little tour in the UK including shows at The Great Escape and Dot to Dot, earning them a positive review from Baeble Music who caught their set at TGE and wrote that the band "are what you wish was playing in every coffeeshop you've ever sat in." They've recently released the cinematic video for the track Ghost, which has a real focus on narrative and paints a beautiful picture of India along the way as the pair play against beautiful backdrops.

Check out the band's other music videos, including I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll, on Youtube here!

LISTEN: Richard Walters - 'Starlight'

I moved out of Oxford two weeks ago today and one of the things I miss most already is the beautiful local music scene, including singer-songwriter and all round lovely chap, Richard Walters, who has today released a new track, Starlight. I was introduced to Richard's music through his band Liu Bei and a solo set he played for Sofar Sounds Oxford a couple of years ago, and I've grown really fond of his beautiful vocals, and adore the record AM which he released last year. This standalone single was produced and mixed by Patrick J. Pearson (aka San Felu) and surrounds the fragile lyric "I need more time", with the track focusing upon the fragility of life. 

Writing about the track, Richard explains that “2016 was a strange year...I became a father in the spring, which was (and continues to be) an incredible, life-affirming experience. Then, towards the end of the year, I sadly lost a close friend to it felt like 2016 was bookended by these events, one utterly amazing and the other utterly heartbreaking, but both leaving me with an enormous, newfound respect for life and time. ‘Starlight’ is, I suppose, about that sense of nostalgia I felt at those two points, looking back but with one eye on the future."

Check out more tunes from Richard on his Soundcloud here, including a cover of Young Folks that I'm particularly partial to!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

WATCH: Dan Croll - 'Bad Boy'

One of the highlights of my time at The Great Escape a couple of weeks ago was managing to jump the queue with our passes and get in to see Dan Croll play the last couple of songs of his set, headlining the Communion showcase. Luckily I'd seen him play a much longer set a couple of weeks before at Omeara, sharing a bunch of tracks from his upcoming record Emerging Adulthood, including Bad Boy, which for me isn't quite as strong as some of the other new tracks such as One of Us and Swim, but it's got a pretty catchy chorus and I'm really looking forward to hearing the full record in July. Check out the slick new video for the track below!

After impressing the crowds on his recent UK tour including a date at London's Heaven, Dan Croll is on to festival slots next, performing at the likes of Latitude and Citdael. You can pre-order the record here before it's release on 21st July.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

ALBUM NEWS: Arcade Fire announce 'Everything Now' and release title track

Hooray! Arcade Fire are back and have announced the follow up to their last studio album Reflektor, which was released all the way back at the end of 2013. Everything Now is set for release on 28th July and the rather funky title track is out now, with a music video set to make you pretty envious if you're in drizzly and rainy Britain right now as I am! The band shared on social media that each track on the record was mastered to a separate 12" and then re-digitized, a technique similar to that used on The Suburbs (released in 2010! how?!)

You can pre-order the record on various formats here.

TOUR NEWS: Blaenavon announce UK tour (Nov 2017)

The ever charming Blaenavon chaps have announced a UK tour for November including their biggest headline show yet at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire! They're busy supporting Circa Waves in America at the moment, all to promote their debut record That's Your Lot which they put out through Transgressive back in April - one of the best records I've heard this year, featuring the track Orthodox Man which they performed stripped back for NME.  

Blaenavon tour the UK in November with The Night Café in support, check out the dates below -

Mon 20th: Sheffield, Leadmill
Tues 21st: Leeds, Wardrobe
Weds 22nd: Manchester, Gorilla
Fri 24th: London, O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Sun 26th: Newcastle, Academy 2
Mon 27th: Glasgow, St Luke's
Tues 28th: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
Weds 29th: Liverpool, Arts Club
Thurs 30th: Birmingham, Mama Roux
Fri 1st Dec: Bristol, Thekla

Tickets for all the dates available here on Wednesday and you can stream the record over on Spotify here.

Monday, 5 June 2017

LISTEN: Catgod release single 'Someone Love'

New music Monday! My Oxford pals Catgod have released Someone Love, the first track from their upcoming EP of the same name which is due out in July. It was premiered last week by Gigslutz who wrote that "flowing with sweeping harmonies, it’s an eclectic and emotion-strewn fusion of genres, resulting in a soaring, mesmerising soundscape". Go listen!

If you're in Oxford you can catch Catgod at Tandem Festival (tickets) and Happy Valley Festival (tickets), both taking place over the weekend of 16-18th June. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

WATCH: Seramic perform 'Found' at Radio 1's Big Weekend

Festival season is upon us and for me that means planning which sets to stream from the likes of Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds - last weekend was Radio 1's Big Weekend in Hull and I was gutted to miss the stream of the Seramic set on Sunday but they have thankfully uploaded a video of them performing the absolute tune Found. Check it below!

If you're at a festival this summer and would like to catch Seramic (who wouldn't?!) - you can catch them at Barn On The Farm, Secret Garden Party and Latitude Festival

Friday, 2 June 2017

LISTEN: Charlie Fink releases debut solo album 'Cover My Tracks'

How about some new music for your Friday? Noah & The Whale frontman and all around sweetheart Charlie Fink has today released his debut solo record Cover My Tracks which you can listen to on Spotify here. Pretty uniquely it is a combined album and stage show with an emphasis on storytelling, with Charlie and actress Jade Anouka performing the full record as a piece of so called gig-theatre each night after the current production of Woyzeck at The Old Vic in London for two weeks, starting on Monday, before a slot at Latitude Festival and a regional tour later in the year. As a huge fan of NATW, since the band split I've been lucky to catch the other members playing in various other projects and got to know them personally, Charlie is the last piece of the puzzle and I am incredibly excited to see him perform! If you listen carefully you'll hear the backing vocals of The Staves, particularly on this beautiful track below, The Howl.

Tickets for Cover My Tracks at The Old Vic Theatre from 5-17 June available here for as little as £12. The record is available online and in record stores from today - happy listening!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

WATCH: Rae Morris releases new track 'Reborn'

Somehow it's over two years since Rae Morris released her debut record Unguarded, and at long last we've got some new music. Taking a step in a slightly different direction, the track Reborn is taken from Rae's upcoming album, which she describes as being about new beginnings, and the video for the track was filmed in Lebanon.

You can catch Rae Morris live at ICA in London on 12th July - tickets available here through Communion from 10am tomorrow (2nd).

Monday, 29 May 2017

GIG NEWS: London Contemporary Voices at Union Chapel (10/06/17)

The wonderful London Contemporary Voices have announced their third annual summer concert at the stunning Union Chapel - having visited last week I'm pretty confident that a choir would sound beautiful in the venue. Unfortunately it clashes with Bushstock again - but if you're not around in Shepherd's Bush for that and fancy some live music and a contemporary choir sounds like your kind of fun then head down to the show, where they will be performing tracks by the likes of Bon Iver, James Blake, Marika Hackman and RY X

For the evening the choir will be joined by Amber Run (check this beautiful session video they recorded together a few years ago), beatboxer Reeps One and producer Guy Sigsworth, as well as the experimental singer Martin Grech. The title for the concert is Confluence, which is a play on the idea of two or more rivers coming together and the coming together of people, such as a choir. The choir will perform a tribute to Jeff Buckley to mark the 20th anniversary of his death as well as a unique choral version of Radiohead track Paranoid Android ahead of the re-release of their record OK Computer. To get a taste of the work of the choir, here they are performing Jack Garratt's Worry in the same venue!

London Contemporary VoicesConfluence is at Union Chapel on Saturday 10th June, doors 7pm - tickets are available here.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

LIVE: Luke Sital-Singh at Union Chapel (23/5/17)

I'm partial to a sad song or two, and last night's show with Luke Sital-Singh and support act Ciaran Lavery did not disappoint in that department. The show took place at London's stunning Union Chapel, a venue I've been desperate to catch a show in for a while, and the perfect setting for an evening of sad songs, with Luke touring his new record Time Is A Riddle. I caught Luke play a secret set at last year's Bushstock to a tiny audience in a wine bar so was pretty excited to see him perform to a much bigger crowd last night.

Luke Sital-Singh at Union Chapel
Listening to Ciaran Lavery's support set it struck me that the pairing was all kinds of clever - they have pretty similar voices (so anyone who is a fan of Luke should just about fall in love with Ciaran through the course of his set) and both have great banter and comic timing on stage, a sort of unintentional hilarity. Opening with a track where he played the guitar percussively and finishing up with a track without the guitar, his vocals carried beautifully around the venue and he had the audience in silence for the entire set, not easy for a support act to do! One of the highlights of his set was the track Shame, and there's a lovely session performance of that below...

Luke has deemed the tour the "magical misery tour" and I'm not going to disagree with that sentiment, but who doesn't love some sad acoustic songs? His second record Time Is A Riddle has been out for just under a fortnight and features the tracks Hunger and Killing Me, and the set took us right through many of the new album tracks alongside the biggest tracks of album one, including Nothing Stays The Same and Bottled Up Tight. A couple of tracks in to his set Luke asked the audience to clap and cheer louder after new tracks so that he'd get the sense that things were improving (again - the stage banter was great), but we hardly needed asking as each song was met with rapturous applause. With some people commenting that the venue has the best acoustics in London it was the perfect setting and I really felt like I was part of something special! Here's an acoustic performance (with some great reverb) of the new track Innocence performed for Bee Happy Sessions.

The tour carries on to Brighton tonight and Exeter on Friday evening before a handful of European shows, check all the shows and grab the record on his site here!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

LISTEN: Arcaves - 'Familiar Stranger'

Imagine an alternative pop version of the beautiful harmonies of indie-folk band Of Monsters and Men and you'll arrive somewhere along the lines of Southend's ARCAVES. Formed in the back of a broken down-car in Sweden, the band won Essex Undiscovered in 2015 and have since supported Nothing But Thieves and Coasts, and been named Sound of 2017 by BBC Introducing Essex - not a bad list of accolades, right?

Their first release of the year comes in the form of the oxymoron-ically titled Familiar Stranger, a track combining soul, pop, trip-hop and indie rock with some great vocal harmonies. Singer and guitarist Billy Wright explains that the track is "kind of a realisation about the timing of relationships [...] about how you can't force or restart something once it's run its course." 

The band are busy working on their forthcoming album, whilst also curating Oxjam in Southend (if you're nowhere near Southend then you'll be sure to find an Oxjam event closer to you later in the year, usually in October.) They are also playing at the London Bridge Summer city Festival as well as numerous festivals around the country to support the new track. Give ARCAVES a like on Facebook to keep track of album progress and their upcoming shows!

Monday, 15 May 2017

WATCH: Hey Charlie release debut single 'Hey'

I've followed Hey Charlie online for a while as I've met the guitarist Lizz and bassist Sophie a few times over the last couple of years at King Charles gigs, and over that time I've seen a lot of recording photos but hadn't had a chance to listen to the band. Good things seem to come who those who wait as they've recently released their grungy debut track Hey alongside this pretty funky music video, and the track is already making waves, getting a spot in the Spotify 'Viral 50' and 'New Music Friday' playlists and being played last night on Phil Taggart's show on Radio 1. Take a listen below...

Writing this post is opening my eyes to the fact that I very rarely post about music from girls apart from the likes of Lucy Rose, Laura Marling and The Staves, and apart from a recent burst of Hey Charlie, Haim and Martha Gunn, I rarely have female fronted bands/soloists on my playlists... you could go on for hours about how orchestras are dominated by men, and how many of the large festival line-ups have very few female artists, but on a personal level I think its simply that I listen to way more men than women. Perhaps it has something to do with the genres I'm into - are there more men making sad folk music? Whatever it is, before I start to ramble, I think it's just refreshing to be enjoying an all girl band and I can't wait to hear what they've got for us next!

Hey Charlie are playing at The Great Escape this week, I'll be down with Tigmus (shout if you want  to say hi!) so I'm hoping to catch their set and get a glimpse into what else they have to offer. If you like to plan things in advance, they're supporting at The Borderline for a Kerrang show in October, tickets here, and for now, be sure to give them a like on Facebook to be in the know when they release more new tracks if you like this debut single!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

LISTEN: Seramic release 'I Got You' EP

With massive support tours with Jack Garratt and more recently Bear's Den under their belts and the brilliant Found EP (listen on Spotify) released last year, I've been a little bit in love with Seramic for a few months now and I'm very excited to be able to say that they have released their new I Got You EP this week. Listen below on Soundcloud or on Spotify and grab your copy of the EP on iTunes.

Fronted by Marcus Foster and backed up by some really talented musicians, including the beautiful backing vocals of Layla Ley, they are delivering some of the best music I've heard over the past few months - think RnB, gospel, funk, hip-hop and so much more all rolled into one. This EP is no exception, featuring three already released tracks which are all absolute tunes in their own right - the title number I Got You, as well as Greg's Love and Same Mistakes. The highlight for me however is a new track, Trying, which closes the EP and is an absolute rollercoaster sonically and lyrically. To get the real Seramic experience you have to catch them performing live, so check out the live video of the title track for Vevo dscvr below to get a taster of their performances.

If you enjoyed that, to get your Seramic live fix you can check them out at Radio 1's Big Weekend, Latitude Festival, Barn on The Farm or Secret Garden Party - they're also headlining KOKO for Clash and Burst on 26th May if you're around! 

ALBUM NEWS: Baio 'Man of the World'

Chris Baio (bassist of Vampire Weekend) has just announced details of Man of the World, the follow up to his debut solo record The Names which was released back in 2015 (listen on Spotify). It was one of my favourite records of the year, full of tunes which seem embedded with a relentless urge to dance which they pass on to you sonically... helped along when you see Chris perform, with his performances resembling the Sister of Pearl video. Alongside the album news Chris, who performs under his surname Baio, has released the album's leading track PHILOSOPHY! which you can listen to below.

The record was co-produced by Chris and recorded in Brixton, and as an American living in London, much of the record was written in the aftermath of the events of 2016, with Chris experiencing the fall out of both Brexit and Trump's election closely. Talking about the album, Chris says that writing the record was his way of processing 2016, "a year that began with the death of my favorite artist, David Bowie, and ended with the greatest political disruption of my adult life – all while I was a nomad, an American living in London, touring two continents, never fully of either place. It’s partially about being trapped in my own head, obsessing about things it was too late to change, feeling afraid and guilty and alone. It’s also my attempt to document a certain sense of loss that felt both intensely personal and like part of a larger collective experience many were going through at once.​"

Man of the World is due for release through Glassnote on 30th June, and you can pre-order here.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

WATCH: Kasabian release video for 'Are You Looking for Action?'

I never doubted them for a second.... Kasabian have knocked Ed Sheeran off the top spot of the album chart with their new record For Crying Out Loud. It's their fifth consecutive number one record and as I've been a fan of the band for around 9 or 10 years I'm feeling super proud and really digging the record, and recently added the track Wasted to my 2017 Spotify playlist.

Earlier in the week they did something pretty revolutionary and experimental, filming a music video for the track Are You Looking for Action? in one take and streaming it live online. The video below is the result, featuring endless nods back to the previous records and I'd say it was a total success! Talking about the video guitarist Sergio Pizzorno said that it "was such an incredible experience to make a music video feel like a live event. What ever went down, that was it. The adrenaline and excitement of recording it in one shot, to a live audience was unreal. I think it could be the first of many for us."

If you haven't already, you can grab a copy of the new record For Crying Out Loud here.

Friday, 12 May 2017

LISTEN: BE GOOD - 'Not Waking Up'

Some new music for your Friday - the debut single from BE GOOD, Oxford 'woozy lofi soulsters' (no idea either but the tune is cool) who recently opened up for Kagoule and Jaws at the Bully. Inspired by the feeling of disconnection and renewal after a new year's party, in the track's premiere on sonofmarketing the vocalist Ash Cooke describes the track as "basically a woozy party anthem for the sleep-deprived".

Give the band a like on Facebook to keep up to date with future shows and releases!

LISTEN: John Smith - 'Headlong'

Good news all around - now that I'm free of uni work and have a little bit more time to blog I've decided to set up an Instagram account for the blog to help spread the good word, and I've resolved to actually keep on top of my emails and check out some of the tunes I'm sent (often several a day). A little catch up on the past week or so of emails and I've dug up this new track from Devon's John Smith.

In a video that sees John performing the title track of upcoming record Headlong on a boat in Switzerland, it is perhaps the first live session I've watched where the musician is wearing a life jacket. It isn't however the first boat session I've seen and I'm now fondly remembering this Dry The River boat concert and We Were Evergreen Busk Barge session! This is my first introduction to John's music and I'm really pleasantly surprised by his voice and not surprised to see that he headlined a show for Communion at Union Chapel last month. 

The single is out a week today (19th) and is taken from the record of the same name, Headlong, produced by Sam Lakeman and mixed by Ruadhri Cushnan (Mumford, King Charles). The record is dedicated to the memory of John's close friend John Renbourn and reflects on his experience of becoming a father for the first time. You can pre-order the record here before it's release on 30th June.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

LISTEN: Tom Hobden & Eliot James - 'Housman's Theme'

If you've been following my posts for a while you'll probably have grasped that I'm quite a fan of Noah & The Whale and have been following their solo endeavours since the band split a couple of years ago. I've seen the members of the band in various guises since the split (all except frontman Charlie but I'm off to see his debut solo album stage show in June) and can't wait for bassist Matt Owens' show with his band Little Mammoths in Oxford tomorrow night.

It's been great seeing what violinist and keys player Tom Hobden has been getting up to, performing all around the world with Mumford & Sons, as I can honestly say that he's one of my favourite musicians and a big part of the reason that I have come to appreciate strings in a live performance so much. Excitingly then, Tom has teamed up with fellow composer Eliot James, whom he met back in 2007 when they worked on the debut Noah album, and collaborated on an LP, Roam.

Aiming to tackle an issue they see in a lack of opportunities and appreciation for orchestral strings within pop music, the project was born after the pair exchanged demos of orchestral and score material last year. The first track from the project is Housman's Theme, a soaring and beautiful classical piece and quite a departure from what I'd usually share on here - but lyric-less music has been featuring in my headphones a lot to get through my last essays, especially the dissertation, and this is stunning!

Talking about their intentions for the record, the pair say that: "True to the album’s name we set out with a hunger for exploring new musical territory. With an orchestra on hand, we gladly lost ourselves at times in the wide plains of English Romanticism but at the same time were ever aware of the here and now, and the importance of forging new lines."

The record, Roam, is due for release on 16th June through Village Green Recordings, and you can give the project a like on Facebook (here) to stay up to date! 

LIVE: Willie J Healey at Modern Art Oxford (5/5/17)

He's come a long way since I saw him playing a support set back in December 2014, and I was chuffed to catch Willie J Healey again last Friday. Tickets for the free show were all snapped up within a matter of hours, showing you his popularity and affirming the suggestion that it might be one of the last chances to see him playing in a venue of this size. It is the basement of a funky art gallery where you lose phone signal and *shock horror* actually have to talk to people - not an issue though as tons of familiar faces from the local scene were there and it was a great night!

Opening up the night was a stripped back Magique, which was a really nice way to be introduced to the tunes. I'm listening to their latest release, Real Love, while writing this and it takes on a whole other life with the addition of drums in the studio version. They are back at the venue for a full band show in July! I've just added the track to my 2017 playlist on Spotify: be sure to follow for updates on that. 

Shortly after their set Willie and the band took to the stage and treat us to a set of old tracks and new, showcasing just how much their busy touring schedule (they'd just finished up on a tour supporting Palace) has helped them harness their live set, giving a super impressive and tight performance. It was real fun and they finished off the set with the wonderful Greys, before we all headed to the pub and a local posh pizza van at 1am.... oh the life of a student after deadlines!

Willie J Healey plays The Great Escape on Friday night before heading out for some headline shows in June, taking in Leicester, London, Guildford and Southampton (announcement post and ticket links here!)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

LIVE: Communion on Tour at Omeara with Joseph J Jones, Banfi and Dan Croll (2/5/17)

Last week I was lucky to win tickets to the Communion on Tour show at the stunning venue Omeara in London, where three of Communion's most exciting acts showcased their talents, Joseph J Jones, Banfi and Dan Croll. After a day of wandering around London and visiting a cat cafe, a lovely break among my final deadlines, we headed to the venue - although I caught a symphony listening party in another part of the venue back in December it was my first proper gig at the venue, and I can't recommend getting along to something there if you're in the area! 

Up first was Joseph J Jones, who I caught back in March supporting Jack Savoretti. I enjoyed his set there, but because it was in the fairly huge Royal Festival Hall with people arriving and finding their seats throughout the set, and we were sat quite a few rows back, I don't feel that I'd really engaged with the set. His voice is however incredibly impressive and I was looking forward to catching him in a more intimate setting, and he certainly didn't disappoint. At the moment I'm really digging his latest release, the track Gospel Truth, and can't wait to hear what he puts out next. He's also touring the UK in June if you like what you hear!

Next up were my favourite band of the moment, Banfi. I've honestly fallen pretty hard for their music over the past few months and this was the sixth time seeing them and I couldn't help but think how they are getting better at every show - not something you can say about most bands! Of the unreleased tracks they're performing in their set at the minute, Future is probably my favourite (although I'm already doubting myself writing that) and there's a lovely video of them performing it for Sofar Sounds London below! Like Joseph, they are also off on their first headline tour soon, following a support tour with the Bear's Den chaps in the UK and Europe for the last couple of months. They're heading out in September, taking in The Lexington in London on 12th September (tickets).

Last up it was a total pleasure to catch Dan Croll again after seeing him play an acoustic set at Bushstock last year and headlining the Communion Christmas Club Night at the end of the year. His new record Emerging Adulthood (something that's becoming quite a fear as my time at uni draws to a close) is being released through Communion on 21st July featuring the brilliant tracks One Of Us, Away From Today and Swim. Rounding up this post nicely he is also off on a tour, a little sooner than the others, kicking off in Glasgow on Friday before taking in Leeds, Manchester, London, Birmingham, Bristol and a slot at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton which I'm hoping to catch!

If you liked what you read about and would like to catch a similar show I can wholeheartedly recommend Communion's festival Bushstock, a day of beautiful music and wonderful community spread across multiple venues in Shepherd's Bush. Check the line-up out here (Banfi are playing!) 

Monday, 8 May 2017

WATCH: Sivu releases the video for 'Lonesome'

After a brilliant Willie J Healey gig on Friday night with a bunch of friends from the Oxford music scene and some cracking sets at Notting Hill Arts Club last night for Communion Music's monthly club night with the likes of Harry Pane and MarthaGunn, I'm looking forward to heading back to London in a few hours to carry on my post-uni celebrations seeing one of my favourite musicians, Sivu, for the first time in a couple of years. He recently released the track Lonesome and has just put up the official video, matching the track in its beauty and craftsmanship, and made by Mathew Robins. Check it out below...

Sivu is currently on a UK tour premiering material from his upcoming record Sweet Sweet Silent, and playing to a sold out Rosemary Branch Theatre in London this evening. There are a handful of shows left in Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham this week so head to his website for info and tickets on those. I can't recommend getting along to see him perform live enough, and these shows are sure to be especially intimate and a great insight into what he's been up to for the last couple of years! 

LISTEN: Charlie Fink releases 'I Was Born To Be A Cowboy'

Improve your Monday instantly by giving a listen to I Was Born To Be A Cowboy, the third track to be release from Charlie Fink's upcoming solo record, Cover My Tracks. If you like what you're hearing, catch up with Anywhere You're Going Is On My Way and Firecracker. The album is set for release on 2nd June and I can't wait!

The album release in June is being supported by a stage show featuring Charlie himself alongside Jade Anouka (who I saw being great in Doctor Faustus alongside Kit Harington last year) at The Old Vic Theatre. Cover My Tracks runs there from the 5th - 17th June (tickets) and a UK tour has just been announced including performances at Latitude and Galway Arts Festival in July before taking in Salford, Bristol, Bury St Edmunds, Milton Keynes and Horsham in September - tickets and info all here!

Friday, 5 May 2017

WATCH: Jack Savoretti releases video for 'We Are Bound'

Feels crazy to be writing this but I'm totally finished with university! After a day of rewriting in the library on Wednesday I managed to submit my final assignment a couple of days early so having a bit of a chill while the rest of my flat panic with essays and exams still looming. I'm hoping that my new found spare time will translate into some more regular posts on here and where better to start than the new music video from my favourite chap Jack Savoretti

I've spent the past week feeling immensely proud of Jack after his performance at Cheltenham Jazz Festival last Thursday was played out live in BBC Radio 2. A massive achievement and pretty poignant as the station have played quite a key role in the huge success that Jack is currently having (mostly down to his bucket loads of talent of course!) You can listen back to the full performance on the iPlayer here and see what all the fuss is about!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

LIVE: Sofar Sounds Oxford house gig (24/4/17)

As my third (and final) year draws to a close I'll soon be saying goodbye to Oxford and moving back home (though I'm not sure I'll be able to stay away for long!) One of the things that I'll miss the most is the local Sofar Sounds, which I've been going to as a photographer/social media whizz on and off for the duration of my degree, meeting a bunch of incredible people in the crew and seeing lots of great music in unique spaces around Oxford along the way. Before university I was mad about the online Sofar sessions and remember being totally overwhelmed that they wanted me to come along and take photos. Volunteering over the years has made me realise just how lovely the whole Sofar family is, and I'd love to keep attending the shows closer to home, and maybe there's even demand for a Sofar Sounds Peterborough, who knows?! Anyway back to now, and last Monday I caught my final Sofar Oxford for a while as the two May shows clash with other gigs (part of the charm of the local scene is how much there is on offer!) 

The show took us back to the roots of Sofar in a cosy living room in an area of Oxford I hadn't been to before, and up first we had a lively and infectiously positive set from Prague/London based Lake Malawi, who supported the lovely Banfi guys a couple of days later in London. The set was complete with foot stomping, luckily the neighbours below didn't seem to mind! They released their single Surrounded By Light recently with a music video filmed in Cuba, check it out below... 

Next up a Winchester based duo who have been playing together since they were in school and 14, with influences including The Staves and First Aid Kit - not bad role models to aspire to! If I remember right, they said that they had only played one Sofar before back in Winchester, and the video online from that show is actually the track I remember most fondly from their set this week, entitled Tough Love, and it features some beautiful harmonies, take a listen if you enjoy the aforementioned female folksters.

Up next was singer-storyteller Gecko... a little browse on his Facebook page provides this quote from Huw Stephens,  'It made me instantly happy when I heard it', and I think that sums up his set pretty well as he had the audience in stitches for the duration with his clever and hilarious lyrics. A particularly comical and slightly ironic track was iPhone, therefore I am, taking the mick out of our widespread obsession with our mobile phones... ironic due to the fact I was looking after the Twitter and Facebook updates for the show. He's raising funds to record an album, it's reached 100% but you can still pledge at this link for signed CDs and all sorts of perks if you like what you hear below!

Our final set of the evening came from a singer, poet, playwright, activist, American and all round lovely human being, Amy León. Missing her band back in the States she treated us to some gutting and passionate a cappella tracks before inviting Gecko back to the stage to accompany her with some guitar while she improvised a couple of tracks, spurred on by the words retirement and passion, suggested by the audience. Here's a really powerful from Sofar London of a piece called This. 

I think that was my eighteenth Sofar Sounds Oxford show, and what a pleasure it's been to be involved over the last couple of years, I've just counted up and think I've seen nearly 80 performers between those shows. Long may Sofar continue to bring wonderful music to people in such a unique and beautiful way! 

Friday, 28 April 2017

ALBUM NEWS: Sivu - 'Sweet Sweet Silent'

I desperately need to work on my final assignment (ah, scary!) but can't resist sharing the new track from the ever wonderful Sivu. Premiered on Clash a few days ago, Lonesome is the follow up to the recent track Childhood House and its combination of stirring strings and delicate vocals are pretty beautiful. The tracks are taken from his upcoming record Sweet Sweet Silent which is set to be released through Square Leg Records on 7th July (pre-order on iTunes here) - the wait is almost over! 

If you want to get a sneak peak of the new tracks (who doesn't?!) then you're in luck as Sivu is off on a UK tour starting with a set at Live at Leeds tomorrow and kicking off properly in Brighton on 3rd May. I'm looking forward to the intimate London gig on 8th May, come and join! All the dates and tickets are on his Songkick page here.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

LIVE: Bear's Den for Richer Unsigned at St Giles Church (22/4/17)

Having planned an essay on Friday evening I'd decided on a productive Saturday writing it, however spontaneity got in the way of that after I got lucky in the front row ticket lottery for the current production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at The Old Vic, with a cast lead by Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire. After arriving at the theatre in the absolute nick of time with only a few minutes to spare I was glad I'd made the journey as the pair, supported by a great ensemble cast, put on a brilliant performance - the play admittedly made a lot more sense because I'd seen Hamlet twice recently, I can imagine being fairly confused at parts without having seen it. It was also super exciting to see a big poster for the upcoming Charlie Fink show at the theatre where he'll be performing all the tracks from his upcoming solo album in a production of the same name, Cover My Tracks.

After the play and some time loitering in Waterloo station I decided to head to St Giles in the Fields church in Soho, where a couple of my friends were queuing for a concert headed up by Bear's Den. It was organised by the Richer Sounds offshoot RicherUnsigned, through which the Bear's Den lads have curated a special vinyl of unsigned artists (including Gizmo Varillas) to coincide with Record Store Day. Tickets were given away in a ballot and I hadn't been lucky but decided to go and see my friends in the queue and see if anybody around had a spare, luckily I have friends braver than I am who asked security about returns... the right person overheard and with a few mins to go before doors opened I was on the guestlist, excited and a little (very) hungry.

Bear's Den at St Giles in the Fields Church

Before Bear's Den played for us, we were treated to sets from three artists who feature on the vinyl, first up the band Firewoodisland who already had me intrigued once I saw the accordion on stage - the last couple of times I can recall seeing an accordion are acoustic Jack Savoretti and The Hoosiers concerts - great company to keep, if I do say so... They had brilliant harmonies between the five of them and a stand out track was Mole Hills which I've found a Sofar Sounds London video of below!

Next up we were in familiar waters, with Christof, who plays alongside the Bear's Den lads on guitar/banjo and vocals, performing a set of his solo music. Before he joined the band I was vaguely aware of his solo music and it was great to finally hear him perform tracks from his beautiful Montreal EP. Despite being just one guy I got some real Fleet Foxes vibes from his set and really loved his vocals, and I'm glad to hear that he's going into the studio next month to work on his album. Special mention has to go to his incredibly funny stage chatter about guitar tuning, ping pong and the places he's lived.

Up next were Jim & Sam, who Davie of Bear's Den introduced, telling us that they're on a tour which involves playing a show every day for a year, which started back in November. The guitar and vocals set-up probably helps (in comparison to setting up for a full band show every day) but the tour still earns massive respect! They made me think back fondly on Lewis & Leigh and Joseph & Maia, it's been a good couple of years for boy/girl duos! A fitting title for a track performed in a church, Holy Water refrain 'blame me if you want to, shame me if you need to, stone me but I love her still' aimed at their parents was pretty memorable!

As if all that weren't enough their set was shortly followed by the absolute brilliance of Bear's Den.  Following their huge sold out show to Hammersmith Apollo a couple of weeks ago it was great to see them in such an intimate and beautiful venue, and it was particularly lovely to hear my favourite first album track again, Magdalene, but the whole set was stunning and I'm glad I risked heading to the venue! It was my seventh time seeing them in the space of a year, and the third of those sets to be in a church, which I've concluded is a pretty wonderful space for their music, especially when they played the religiously named Gabriel unplugged among the pews, which my friend recorded and you can watch below!

A day working on an essay turned spontaneously into one of the best days of the year so far - now to focus on the last couple of assignments before finishing third year in a couple of weeks time. Although it wouldn't be right without a handful of gigs... I'm looking forward to my last (boo!) Sofar Sounds Oxford tomorrow night, followed by running the door for Tom Figgins' London gig on Wednesday and Harry Pane's Oxford gig on Sunday. Lots of brilliant music to listen to!

Monday, 17 April 2017

WATCH: Seramic release video for 'Same Mistakes'

I find it hard to picture somebody listening to Seramic without wanting to break into dance, much like Marcus Foster himself on stage during one of their performances, so it's great to see yet another dance routine in their latest video for the track Same Mistakes (the follow-up to the I Got You video, complete with synchronised swimming.) It's a cracking track and I am as ever really excited by them, and can't wait for the new EP. Plus they went to Hong Kong to film the video, so you probably owe it to them to watch...

Check out all the Seramic releases so far and sign up to the mailing list here!

Friday, 14 April 2017

THEATRE: Hamlet for Free at Almeida Theatre (13/4/17)

OK so it isn't music related (though there was a lot of music) but I feel a huge need to write about my trip to the Almeida Theatre yesterday for Hamlet for Free, a week of free performances of Andrew Scott's Hamlet, as well as a bunch of other events, all free and all for under 25s. Well, the blog is called 'Cool Music And Things' and I've never really been sure what those 'things' were, and as Hamlet himself says - 'The play's the thing.' So here goes!

I caught the play last Wednesday and was ridiculously excited to see it again, particularly as part of this incredible scheme for young people. I don't think I'd be alone in saying that I sometimes feel pretty intimated at a play as a young person, particularly with Shakespeare. I'm an English literature student, I've paid for the ticket and have as much right as any audience member to be there, but there's a misbelief that theatre isn't for young people, a sense that you're being looked down on, a pressure to dress or act in a certain way, and very often stories in the media about young people disrupting the performance by taking photos etc, all working to discourage young people from attending plays. This is why it is so great that initiatives like this exist, encouraging young people to get along to the theatre and see one of their favourite actors do what they do best before their eyes. I'm easily into double figures for plays over the last couple of years but for some younger Sherlock fans this was probably their first time seeing a play - and what a play to start with!

Announced only a few days ago, we were lucky to grab tickets to a special Q&A with Andrew and the theatre's artistic director Rupert Goold in the afternoon. Rupert questioned Andrew about how he first got into acting as a child and his process of preparing for the play both in the months leading up to it, the rehearsals and on the day of a performance. It was entertaining and really interesting to get an insight into these processes, and while I didn't get a chance to ask a question as I always wimp out in these situations, if I had, it would've been about how on earth actors can deal with the emotional toll of performing a play like this every night. The character of Hamlet in particular goes on a crazy emotional rollercoaster and every day he's got to return to the start, and act as if he doesn't know what's to come, I don't think it'll ever not amaze me that actors are able to do that! Some particular highlights of the session were Andrew saying that one thing he'd like to see change about theatre are the prices (another way to freeze out younger theatregoers), that he doesn't subscribe to the idea of 'high art' and believes that a soap opera can have fascinating plots too, and his analogy of Shakespeare's plays as like sheet music, intimidating at first but a process of learning how you'd like to play it as an actor. It was also especially great to hear them celebrating young theatre audiences, with Andrew saying wholeheartedly that the audiences this week had been the best in the run, and that older audiences often seem to think they own Shakespeare, attending with a level of cynicism. 

Andrew Scott in conversation with Rupert Goold
After a little trip to Five Guys (yum) we queued up for a bit as the seats were unallocated, and managed to get on the front row of a little side block of seats. It's a really beautiful and intimate theatre and we were right in the action, with the actors walking down the aisle next to me throughout the performance. The play was four hours long but didn't feel like an endurance as you might imagine, and it was possibly even better than last week's performance - I think (big claim) this might be the best play I've ever seen. Takes quite a lot to top James McCavoy's performance in The Ruling Class but it might just have done that. The cast includes Juliet Stevenson as Gertrude and Jessica Brown Findlay as Ophelia and they were all brilliant, but Andrew's performance in the leading role is on another level, taking the audience along on the character's journey with him and making us laugh, cry, and be a little scared at points

I have to reiterate somebody's compliment in the Q&A that his delivery makes it seem as if he's genuinely saying the words for the first time, and as if no actor before him has said them, his performance is 'fresh and unpredictable' (Evening Standard review). To top off an incredible evening we hung around in what I have to say was a really organised stage door queue (hats off to the theatre security!) and I got to meet Andrew, tell him how amazing it was and grab a hug and a signature - he's a total sweetheart. 

Sadly if you haven't got along to the show yet, its run at Almeida finishes tomorrow, but after being pretty much sold out the whole way through it's transferring to the West End soon, running from the start of June to the start of September at the Harold Pinter Theatre - tickets through ATG here! I'm intrigued to see how the shift from this intimate space where the actors can see the audience, and walk (and sit, at points) amongst them to a much larger theatre changes the play, but I've got every confidence that it'll carry on being just as brilliant and would certainly recommend that you get along to see it if you can.